Beanery Online Literary Magazine

December 12, 2007

HOW THE BEANERY ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINE WAS CREATED

—written by Carolyn C. Holland

Where can new (and established) writers submit articles, create a portfolio, and read the works of other writers? In the BEANERY ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINE! Submissions can be E-mailed to beanerywriters@yahoo.com with the word “submission” included in the address line.

To receive a sample issue of the Beanery Writers Newsletter, E-mail beanerywriters@yahoo.com Be sure to type the words “NEWSLETTER SAMPLE” in the subject line. The sample will provide directions on subscribing to the newsletter.

The Beanery Online Literary Magazine (BOLM) is a publication of the Beanery Writers Group in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The group is small, eclectic and not afraid to wade in new waters.

Publication of an online literary magazine distinguishes the Beanery Writers Group from the numerous other writing groups in Westmoreland County (Southwestern Pennsylvania). We are often asked why we began the BOLM, how we chose its blog format, and what challenges we faced in the process.

At writing conferences, and in my online exploration of material for meeting “lessons,” a consistent message kept emerging: WEBSITES are a “necessity” for writers. It was a message I believed our fledgling writers group needed to explore. It was also a message I wanted to investigate—I am writing a novel and wanted to learn any process that I might need to publicize and market the end product. Thus, I suggested we experiment with a website as a group.

THE BLOG FORMAT
I’m not “computer savvy.” After diving in and exploring web sites and blogs, I discovered that the blog format was easier (for me) to set up and manage than a website.

Problogs.com was the first host site of many that I felt I could maneuver. Also, the host site seemed to have fewer undesirable blogs, and they had a writing category.
It took me several months to begin to feel comfortable with the site. After I developed some ease, I invited members of the Beanery Writers Group to gather around the computer, where I shared what I learned with them.

I decided to post daily. At first, because I was “practicing,” most of the posts were my items. Even before I reached my minimum comfort zone I began using materials submitted from our writers group as well as materials written by members of the former (Mt. Pleasant) Foothills Writers Group. I found writings from other persons in my files, and with their permission I posted them. During Lent my husband, Monte, was recruiting devotions written by community members for a church web site. The group agreed to publish forty days of devotions, freebie posts for the site. However, we also posted literary writings, because the site is a multi-genre site (forty days of devotions would make it appear to be a religious site).

OUR SUCCESS IS IN THE NUMBERS
When we began our “experiment” no one expected much. The Internet is so huge—how were people to find OUR site? To our surprise, our site accumulated 5000 hits during its first three months. By five months we had claimed the #1 spot at the ProBlogs.com host site, and in six months we had accumulated 20,000 hits.
I reviewed the other writer’s sites at Problogs.com, and noted their lack of writing professionalism. I felt part of our success was due to our greater degree of quality writing.
At this point, I felt we needed to be known as something other that a “blog.” The group members agreed to “renaming” our site the Beanery Online Literary Magazine. In July we linked to the Flickr photo site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/beaneryonlineliterarymagazine , enabling photo illustrations or our articles.

We ended our first year with 46,712 hits.

At about seven months into the project, I decided to remove most of my posts from the BOLM, because I wanted this to be everyone’s site (in my learning process I had overbalanced the site with my writings). I created http://www.ProBlogs.CarolynCHolland to archive these writings.

This site accumulated sufficient hits to bring the BOLM site first year count to 55,555 hits. Our top day had 635 hits, while our daily overall average is 121 hits, our mean average is reaching 300 hits a day.

These numbers are important. Like any other publication, online or print, numbers indicate circulation, circulation indicates readership and what writers want most is to be read by persons all over the globe—including Sweden, Italy, France, and Singapore (where we are read).

THE BOLM CHANGES ITS HOST SITE
A year into our project our host site was sold. The new owner revamped the site, adding several nice features, including a reader’s count on each article. However, the categories were removed, and readers need to scroll through multiple pages to find an item.

Removing the categories meant that a reader couldn’t seek writings by a particular author. This is a key feature for our writers. With regrets, it was decided to seek a new host site.

After researching sites, again frustrated with my computer illiteracy, I settled on wordpress.com: http://www.beanerywriters.wordpress.com (reached best through the Google search engine), BOLM Volume 2, was up and running on November 15, 2007. It begins building readership from the ground up, which will hopefully increase as fast as the former site did.

WRITING OPPORTUNITIES THROUGH THE BOLM
The BOLM offers writers opportunities beyond readership.

For writers unable to attend meetings due to their schedule or inaccessibility to a local writers group, the BOLM offers a way to publish their writing. It offers writers a place to develop a writing portfolio to share with friends and family or for professional purposes. It offers children and youth a place to start publishing.

All posts are used with the writer’s permission. They retain the rights to their work.
We welcome submissions from both members and visitors. Longer items may be broken up and posted in several parts, not unlike print magazines that run articles in series.

Submissions can be E-mailed to beanerywriters@yahoo.com with the word “submission” included in the address line.

Submitters indicate how they want the piece credited—first name only, full name, or tag name. Items will be edited for language accuracy, and may be critiqued by Beanery Writers Group members. If there are major changes the submitter will be notified.

BEANERY WRITERS COMMENTS ON THE BOLM
While some members of the Beanery Writers Group relish the use of the BOLM, others are skeptical and feel I emphasize the site too much at meetings. They feel, justifiably, that pieces published there may harm print submissions, may be plagerized, that online publications interfere with or indicate that print media is less valuable. These are all valid issues in the fluid world of the Internet.

Joe is one who enjoys the site—he feels, like I do, that it encourages discipline in writing and offers a way to share those writings with others. Pat hesitates to post her writing on the Internet. “If I knew a editor would accept it after it was posted—that it wasn’t considered published—I’d probably submit items,” she said.

One skeptical member considers the online magazine as a “waste of time for me” because it’s writing to somebody you don’t know and you don’t get feedback. “If you are not getting feedback how are we learning from it?” she questions.

Although the BOLM may not be of the same quality as Poets online magazine, online writers confirm my belief that we’ve had phenomenal success with the publication. I am encouraged to continue and improve because of the first year’s success.
We thank all our readers for their support of our endeavor.

To read other articles on writing, click on the WRITING folder at www.beanerywriters.wordpress.com

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